Jesus is wildly and prophetically subversive, because beyond our affluent comfortable suburbs, not all is right. And something has to change.



sub·ver·sive   /səbˈvərsiv/    adjective

1. seeking or intended to subvert an established system or institution.

The word subversive comes from Latin. “Sub” means from below and “vertere” means to turn. So, to subvert means to turn things upside-down, especially the established system or the status quo, from below.


Subversive Jesus: An Adventure in Justice, Mercy, and Faithfulness in a Broken World

[Zondervan (Harper Collins) April 26, 2016]

What if Jesus never called us to a white picket fence, 2.4 kids and a boring job? What if He’s inviting us instead into something more daring, more profound, and more revolutionary than the status quo? Would that be a life worth living?

Subversive Jesus is the story of an experiment in putting the most subversive teachings of Jesus into practice. From subversive parenting to subversive charity, subversive hospitality to subversive citizenship and more – Jesus wants to turn our lifeless, old conventional wisdom upside-down.

Walk with our family as He leads us to the margins: initiating the Pirates of Justice flash mobs, sharing our home with detoxing crack-heads, welcoming homeless panhandlers and prostituted women to the dinner table, and ultimately sparking a movement to reach the world’s most vulnerable children.

This book is an invitation to say ‘Yes’ to Jesus and then do something courageous with your life.


What does it look like to truly love your neighbor?

I found Craig Greenfield’s book very refreshing yet challenging! The book challenges perspectives on charity and how we can help those in need. Our efforts to do good often cause more harm than what well meaning people intend. Other-times some want to help people in need to feel better about themselves and in the process fall short in their efforts as well. Subversive Jesus adds to the conversation already begun in books like Toxic Charity and When Helping Hurts. (To learn better ways to help those in poverty pick up a copy of Greenfield’s book or visit his blog.)

Greenfield’s family and friends show the reader a helpful framework of radical hospitality and coming alongside those marginalized and exploited by society is refreshingly authentic and follows the life Jesus calls us to. Greenfield reminds us that Jesus came to subvert and undermine the kingdom of this world, the status quo, by establishing a new kingdom, the kingdom of God.

Subversive Jesus challenges culture’s idols of comfort, isolation, security, family, prosperity and more in a way that challenges the reader to contemplate how to be good news to the poor in where and how we live. You may sense the pull these idols have on culture around us and know there must be another way of living and this book can help as you wrestle with and contemplate how to do so.

For those learning about living on mission in everyday stuff of life with a community of people seeking to do the same, Greenfield can add to the conversation and what we are learning. Greenfield presents a balanced approach to living on mission in community with others and inviting those around you into your life while sharing the good news of Jesus in the process.


Throughout this book, I highlighted a lot of phrases, sentences and paragraphs. Here are just a few of the quotes I highlighted while reading this book:

One billion souls-or one out of every seven people on earth today-live in such a slum.


As followers of Jesus, we need to figure out what that good news looks like as we respond to those who are suffering because of poverty and oppression, whether a beggar on the corner or an orphaned child in a slum halfway around the world.


No one, not even our worst enemy, is beyond redemption; and true transformation is complete only when the oppressors are transformed as well as the oppressed. That’s why Jesus commanded us to love our enemies.


Too many churches see mission as something done to strangers during an annual trip to a “foreign” place, rather than something to be lived everyday as part of a lifelong, place-based vocation. Jesus was a friend, not an annual visitor, to the broken.


So let us give up on cheap charity that is divorced from a life of justice and proclaim the truly Good News of the upside-down kingdom of Jesus to the poor.


Though our initial engagement with the poor might begin with a short-term mission trip, it must not end there, because Jesus himself was known as a friend of the broken-not just a visitor. Our lives must develop an ongoing rhythm of interacting with and embracing those who are struggling.


Ultimately, we will be called to account for how we treated the “least,” and not everyone who struggles is economically poor.


True love flows out of mutuality, where we blur the lines between those who are serving and those who are receiving, and where we humbly acknowledge that we all have something to offer and something to receive from one another.



Craig Greenfield.

An outsider who helps insiders become alongsiders.

Founder and Director of Alongsiders International.

Author of The Urban Halo and the new book, Subversive Jesus: An Adventure in Justice, Mercy, and Faithfulness in a Broken World
(published by Zondervan in April 2016).

This is his story…

I never wanted to live in a slum. I’m a total outsider to slums.

Growing up in affluence, I wanted to be rich. Live in a mansion. And drive a fast car.

And as a corporate executive in a successful technology start-up, I was well on my way to achieving those things and much more. But somewhere along the way, Jesus interrupted my trajectory.

Traveling in Asia, I came face to face with Jesus in the “distressing disguise of the poor”. This Jesus claimed that whatever I do for those at the bottom of the heap – I would be doing for Him. In fact, He described his gospel as being truly Good News for the poor (Luke 4).

Deeply impacted, I first moved into an impoverished Cambodian slum community 15 years ago with my wife Nay (a former refugee from the Khmer Rouge regime who has her own incredible story), and together we began to get alongside vulnerable children there in the slum.

Frustrated by how few kids we could reach on our own, we developed a ministry to help Cambodian communities care for their own orphans, eventually reaching hundreds of vulnerable children and sparking a mentoring movement,Alongsiders International, that by God’s grace has spread throughout Cambodia, into India and Indonesia and beyond.


Subversive Jesus: An Adventure in Justice, Mercy, and Faithfulness in a Broken World

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for a fair and unbiased review.